Opposition MP Joanah Mamombe raises environmental concerns over proposed cricket stadium in Victoria Falls


HARARE – Joanah Mamombe, a Member of Parliament (MP) for Harare West from the CCC party, voiced her apprehensions in the National Assembly on Wednesday about Zimbabwe Cricket's proposal to build a 10,000-seater multi-purpose sports stadium in Victoria Falls ahead of the 2026 and 2027 World Cups which Zimbabwe will host.

Cricket Stadium to be built in Victoria Falls, environmental concerns raised
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Mamombe underscored that the construction could potentially disrupt the city's biodiversity and endanger its UNESCO World Heritage status. 

She urged the authorities to contemplate alternative locations for the stadium, thereby conserving Victoria Falls' natural state as a top tourist attraction.

"Zimbabwe enacted a new Constitution in 2013, which entrenched Environmental Rights in Section 73. Every person has the right to an environment that is protected for the benefit of the present and future generations through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution, promote conservation, and secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources," Mamombe stated.

"Our tourism industry heavily relies on nature-based attractions. Zimbabwe is the third-largest country in terms of wildlife resources, such as rhinos and elephants. Infrastructure development is important as it has the potential to attract more tourists. However, we cannot achieve this without disrupting our biodiversity," she added.

Mamombe suggested that other cities in Zimbabwe could host the proposed stadium, distributing the economic benefits without sacrificing environmental integrity. She also pointed out that if tourists can travel from South Africa to visit Victoria Falls, they can do the same to travel from other cities.

The MP warned that the UNESCO heritage status is at risk, as Victoria Falls was previously facing serious risks of losing the UNESCO World Heritage due to developments that threaten its natural state. 

"We should explore alternative locations that do not compromise our valuable natural resources and conservation efforts," she advised.

In response to Mamombe's concerns, Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda assured that a master plan and and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) would take into account such environmental concerns. 

"Your concern, Hon. Member, in terms of environmental protection, is noted. However, there is a master plan that will address that eventuality. 

"Also, an Environmental Impact Assessment will be conducted before any infrastructural development takes place. I hope that your concerns will indeed be given due respect," Mudenda responded.

According to the Minister of Tourism, Barbra Rwodzi, the stadium is expected to be completed by August 2025. This timeline allows for the pitch or grass to be prepared a year in advance of the 2026 World Cup.

The stadium is designed to be a multi-sport facility, accommodating various sporting disciplines including rugby, hockey, tennis, and squash.

In addition to the main stadium, there will be another ground constructed at the same location for teams to practice during the World Cup.

This news follows closely on the heels of ZC's Memorandum of Understanding with the Gweru City Council, which will result in the construction of another stadium in the Midlands province. 

Zimbabwe, in collaboration with Namibia, is the host of the Men's Under-19 Cricket World Cup. Following this event, Zimbabwe will also co-host the 2027 Men's Cricket World Cup, in partnership with South Africa and Namibia.

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